Knowing by doing: learning for sustainable muttonbird harvesting
Moller, Henrik; Kitson, Jane; Downs, Theresa
In a fast‐changing world, successful communication of traditional cultural principles and practices of guardianship and stewardship across generations is more important than ever before. This study investigates knowledge and learning in relation to the last large‐scale customary harvest of a seabird in New Zealand, the titi (Puffinus griseus), by Rakiura Maori. Semi‐directed interviews were conducted with 20 titi‐harvesting elders. We sought firstly to identify the key knowledge‐holders and mechanisms for the transmission of ecological knowledge, as well as the cultural and spiritual beliefs interwoven with harvest practice. Secondly, we sought to identify modern challenges to traditional pathways of learning, and the changing roles of knowledge holders in the harvesting community. Traditional approaches, including observation, hands‐on experience, and storytelling, continue as the main mechanisms for knowledge transmission. Awareness of ancestors (tupuna) and taboo improve compliance of accepted harvesting practices, reinforcing the connection of Rakiura Maori to the harvesting islands and fostering a strong conservation ethic. However, modern needs and pressures appear to threaten the transmission of knowledge between successive generations. The effects, both positive and negative, of the adoption of modern processing, transport and communication techniques within the traditional harvest are considered. Learning and social mechanisms for the titi harvest are based on the foundation of tikanga (protocol) and kaitiakitanga (environmental guardianship), but are demonstrably adaptive, building the resilience and social‐ecological sustainability of this culturally‐fundamental harvest.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Rights Statement: © The Royal Society of New Zealand 2009
Keywords: adaptive co-management; lore and law; Puffinus griseus; tikanga; tītī harvesting; Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Research Type: Journal Article